Celebrating the Solstice

Sunday 21st June 2020- New Moon in ♊-♋

The Summer Solstice, aka: Midsummer, Litha, Litha-tide, Alban Hefin or Alban Heruin.

By the time this blog is posted, the summer solstice has been and gone. Here in the UK, it took place on Saturday 20th June at 22:43 hours. There was even an eclipse and a solar flare too! Although both would have been seen in different parts of the world.

I might have mentioned before that I co-run a Pagan Moot here in Nottingham, it goes by the name of The Robin Hood Moot, so called because we (before Lockdown took effect) would meet at the Robin Hood Statue just outside of Nottingham Castle to celebrate the Wheel of the Year. Adapting to not being able to meet up in public, we took to having our celebrations online and started hosting meetings on the Full Moon.

The RHM hasn’t had it’s solstice celebration yet, we’ll be doing that tomorrow night, we’ll be riding the energy of the solstice. Mainly because everyone will have their own celebrations going on the Saturday and today is Father’s Day. Experience in the days of being a member of the now defunct Grove of the Corieltauvi taught me: People prefer to be with their families at this time. And so they should.

My friend and fellow RHM member, Tony, asked the question: “Yes, the Solstice is on Saturday, that part I know…. but was under the impression you do the sunset on the eve and sun rise of the Solstice?

As we know from the photos of the media, Stonehenge is normally swamped with people who had come to welcome the dawn of the longest day of the year. A tradition started relatively recently: it was William Stukeley during the 18th century who proposed that Stonehenge was used to observe the solstices. He was right, although scientists argue that the structure was geared towards the sunset for the Winter Solstice. The logic being that in knowing the shortest day had arrived, with it comes the promise of the lighter nights and the coming of the summer months. Hope; in other words.

Realistically, it appears to be facing both the sunrise at midsummer and the sunset at midwinter.

So, to celebrate the summer solstice at the dawn or the evening?

If you want to get technical: its all about rotation. The summer solstice happens in the northern hemisphere when the sun is at its highest point, the furthest from the Equator. When the North Pole tilts towards the sun directly at the sun at 23.4 degrees, that’s when it really happens.

The actual point of solstice didn’t occur until 22:43 BST last night.

Whether you chose to celebrate the dawn or the evening of the longest day was totally up to you. Some even do both!

For me, the summer solstice is about the victory of the longer days, the celebration of the season of summer itself. For keeping the inner flame going and being thankful for everything and everyone I have in my life. I also acknowledge the passing of time and even though I’m raising a glass to the fire or to the setting sun, I’m accepting that from here, the nights will become longer once again. And so the cycle continues. That’s what I like about the solstices, they are the tipping points to the times of light and times of dark.

Yogic sun salutations, rituals both simple and complex, energy work, chanting, having a picnic at your house, lighting bonfires or candles are all perfectly valid ways of celebrating Father Sun. However you celebrated or marked the occasion, I hope you had a good one!

In our Solstice fire, the Stag appeared to give blessings of the South….